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The $75 million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been lampooned by Sesame Street and Conan O’Brien, dramatized by Law & Order: Criminal Intent, scrutinized by the press and ridiculed by comics fans. And now the most expensive production in Broadway history is the subject of a tell-all book.
The New York Times reports that Glen Berger, who collaborated on the show’s original script with former director Julie Taymor, has written Song of Spider-Man, which purports to document all of the betrayals and pettiness surrounding her firing in March 2011 and the sweeping overhaul of the production that followed. The newspaper obtained galleys of the book ahead of its Nov. 5 release from Simon & Schuster.
The sweeping changes to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will include the elimination of one of Julie Taymor’s signature elements, the widely panned Geek Chorus.
Based on the troubled musical’s four original creators — Taymor, her co-writer Glen Berger, Bono and the Edge — the geeks are four comic-book fans who make up the plot as the story unfolds, serving as a device to cover the show’s complicated scenery changes while doling out chunks of exposition. As practical as their purpose might be, they were described by some critics as “useless” and “utterly superfluous.”
The New York Times reports the four actors — Mat Devine, Gideon Glick, Alice Lee and Jonathan Schwartz — were told Thursday night that the Geek Chorus will be cut when the $70-million production goes on hiatus on April 18. The newly expanded creative team, led by director Philip William McKinley, Berger and script doctor (and comics writer) Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, apparently has found a way to execute scenery changes without the aid of the chorus. According to Broadway World, there’s no word yet on what will happen to the performers once their roles are dropped.
The loss of the geeks is only the first in what’s expected to be a wave of major changes made in the wake of Taymor’s departure on March 9. Green Goblin’s confusing story arc will reportedly be clarified, the unpopular “Deeply Furious” number cut, and the role of the eight-legged villainous Arachne reduced if not eliminated entirely (The Times says the character, another of Taymor’s signature creations, “is expected to remain, for now, though as a scaled-back character”). Bono and the Edge are also writing at least two additional songs.
In another change, Broadway World confirms that Chase Brock is replacing original choreographer Daniel Ezralow, a Taymor loyalist who designed the show’s complex flying sequences.
Spider-Man will return from its three-week hiatus on May 12, and continue preview performances until the scheduled opening night on June 14.
A post-Julie Taymor Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will likely be a radically changed show, with many of the director’s trademark elements altered or removed, multiple outlets report.
Among the rumored revisions are the strengthening of the love story between Peter Parker and Mary Jane, said to have been a point of contention between Taymor and some cast members, the loss of the widely panned “Deeply Furious” number, and a clarification of the Green Goblin’s story arc (he dies in Act I only to reappear in Act II). But perhaps most notable are the plans for Arachne, the eight-legged villainess created by Taymor in 2002. The character, who dominates the second act, will see her scenes reduced or cut entirely, Bloomberg reports.
The details surfaced today, less than 24 hours after producers finally announced what many had expected for some time: that the beleagured director would leave and the critically savaged musical shut down for two weeks to undergo a massive overhaul. Philip William McKinley (The Boy From Oz) was brought in as Taymor’s replacement to work with an expanded creative team that includes composers Bono and The Edge, musical consultant Paul Bogaev, playwright and comics writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and sound designer Peter Hylenski. Opening night, most recently scheduled for March 15, will be delayed for a sixth time, to early summer.
Besieged director Julie Taymor will leave Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark as producers prepare to shut down performances for two to three weeks to overhaul the $65 million musical, multiple sources report. However, The New York Times now contends she could remain in some capacity, “perhaps in name only,” following her rumored resignation Tuesday night.
The news follows two days of negotiations that were believed to center on the Tony Award-winning Taymor either working with an expanded creative team to retool production, or possibly exit the show she co-wrote and shepherded to Broadway. “Taymor is out. She’s left the building,” a source close to the production tells the New York Daily News.
The shutdown dates for Spider-Man, which was supposed to open March 15, are expected to cover late April and early May, The Times reports. However, a spokesman sticks by the line that “the opening night is still scheduled for March 15.” A shutdown would mean a loss of about $1.3 million a week — although still in previews, Spider-Man is one of the highest-grossing shows on Broadway — and push the production past the April 28 deadline for Tony Awards eligibility (apparently not a concern). Producers are now thought to be eyeing a June opening date, the show’s sixth.
Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have brought in outside help for the beleaguered musical amid growing expectation that the show’s opening will be delayed a sixth time.
The New York Times reports that veteran conductor and musical supervisor Paul Bogaev was hired about a week ago to work with Bono and the Edge and to help improve the performance, arrangements and sound quality. Bogaev was the musical director and conductor of the technically complex Starlight Express, and collaborated with Phill Collins on Tarzan and Elton John on Aida.
News of Bogaev’s involvement comes less than a week after a report that comics writer and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had been approached to rework the book originally penned by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger (The Times says he’s yet to be hired). It also follows quickly on a rumor that producers wanted to bring in a co-director for Taymor — something a show spokesman and Taymor herself deny.
Spider-Man spokesman Rick Miramontez wouldn’t comment to the newspaper regarding speculation that the show’s opening could be pushed past March 15, the date selected last month by lead producer Michael Cohl “to ensure that this will be the final postponement.”
The $65 million musical, which began preview performances on Nov. 28, has experienced numerous setbacks, including technical glitches, serious injuries, cast departures and, early this month, an avalanche of scathing reviews from theater critics. Still, it’s the second highest-grossing show on Broadway, behind the long-running Wicked.
Confused by all the twist and turns involving the delay- and injury-plagued Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark? Don’t worry, Taiwan’s Next Media Animation has your covered, explaining the latest developments in its customary CGI-animated, and somewhat-humorous, style.
Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have decided to move the opening of the $65-million Broadway musical from Jan. 11 to sometime in February, The New York Times confirms. That’s nearly a year after it was originally set to open.
This latest delay is intended to provide more time for creators to stage a new closing number, further rewrite dialogue, consider adding and removing scenes, and possibly insert new music from Bono and the Edge.
The musical, which is the most expensive and technically complex in Broadway history, has been plagued by problems, dating back to at least August 2009, when cash-flow obstacles forced production to shut down. Amid delays that led to the loss of stars Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming, the show’s budget ballooned from $35 million to $50 million to $65 million. Just as director Julie Taymor’s ambitious show appeared back on track, reports emerged of safety concerns triggered by two injuries — one was serious — during rehearsals. Then came last month’s glitch-filled first preview, during which actress Natalie Mendoza received a concussion (she returned to the production on Wednesday night after a nearly two-week absence).
However, despite those problems — heck, maybe it’s because of — ticket sales for Spider-Man‘s previews have been impressive, with the 1,932-seat Foxwoods Theatre at 98.2 percent capacity. Unfortunately, producers will have to maintain those numbers if they hope to recoup their initial investment in less than four years.
A video posted today on the Facebook page of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark provides the first peek, costume sketches and stylized photos aside, at what the $60-million musical will actually look like.
Set to the tune of the show’s anthem “Boy Falls From the Sky,” the video features some of the flying sequences — the source of the production’s most recent problems — as well as footage of stars Reeve Carney, Jennifer Damiano and Patrick Page in rehearsal, and clips of interviews with composers Bono and the Edge. Front and center, though, is director Julie Taymor’s pitch: “We can’t really tell you what this is, but it has rock and roll, it has drama, and it has circus. […] Yes, we have the spectacle, but the spectacle is at the service of a good story.”
If all goes as planned — let’s face it, very little with this production has gone according to plan — Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will begin previews Nov. 28 and open on Jan. 11.
(via The New York Times)
From the pages of Vogue magazine and the lens of photographer Annie Leibovitz come these images from director Julie Taymor and composers Bono and The Edge’s upcoming, long-delayed Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. Personally? I think I’d kill for a comic book Spidey that was this magnificently crazy, let alone a Broadway version that cost tens of millions of dollars to make. What say you?
Scroll down for another pair of jaw-dropping pics and click the link for two additional, vastly less jaw-dropping ones.
Just as the long-troubled musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark appeared back on track, an accident has raised concerns about the safety of the big-budget Broadway production.
The New York Post reports that last week dancer Kevin Aubin, one of several performers who doubles as Spider-Man, broke both of his wrists when he was catapulted through the air to the lip of the stage, where he landed with bone-snapping force. The New York Times notes that on his Facebook page, now set to private, Aubin wrote: “well i dont know what im allowed to say. but something went wrong and i fell on my hands from a high distance. It happens, no one to blame. I’m alive and ok.”
Producer Michael Cohl issued a statement saying, “With a show as complex as this, safety is the top priority for everyone at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
Showbiz411’s Roger Friedman voiced reservations more than two weeks ago about the safety of the complicated aerial extravaganza: “Apparently the actors will be flying over the audience’s heads and all over the theater. This isn’t Peter Pan with a little onstage aerial. And the people who are flying are not from Cirque du Soleil or trained acrobats. ‘They’re muscular actors who got flying training and are into it,’ says a source.”